Without a doubt, Southern rock is a true strain of Americana. Southern rock fuses rock and country music influences together, evoking a sense of patriotism and a longing for good ol' country home. Bands like Lynard Skynard have mastered the genre, setting the standard for other musicians and bands to follow.
Christian musicians from southern states such as Georgia and Tennessee often incorporate this genre into their music. Some of these musicians, listed below, don't necessarily focus solely on Southern rock, but you can hear its influence throughout their music.
Seven years ago, Southern rock band Carrollton was born. The worship band chose their name from a small town located between their hometowns of Cincinnati and Louisville. The four musicians routinely performed together at numerous youth camps, conferences and churches. The band collectively write songs based on their life experiences--positive and negative. They focus less on playing the perfect set and more on following the spirit's lead. Carrollton recently released their first full length album Everything Or Nothing, following up two exceptional EPs.
2. Third Day
Christian contemporary music mainstays Third Day have been churning out albums for 20 years. The band, which formed in Marietta, Georgia, has been greatly influenced by Southern rock. In hit tracks such as "40 Days," "Love Song" and "Sound of Your Voice," you can hear the fusion of rock and country creating the perfect southern style. Probably the best indicator of the genre's influence is the singer's approach; Mac Powell's Cat Stevens-style vocals epitomizes this example.
3. Zach Williams
Newcomer Zach Williams, a native of Jonesboro, Arkansas, grew up surrounded by musical influences. Williams' father led worship at various churches while his mother sang on praise teams. These musical influences shaped the sound of Williams' music. Lyrically, the singer draws on inspiration from his personal experiences and struggles. Over the years, Williams fell into a life of drugs, but thanks to the strength of the Lord he rose above addiction. Despite Williams' season of struggles, the rock-singer-turned-Christian-artist never went far from his home state. Williams currently leads worship at his church Central Baptist, located in Jonesboro, most likely playing music with his ubiquitous southern rock flair.
4. Big Daddy Weave
Christian contemporary band Big Daddy Weave, founded at the University of Mobile in Alabama, is known for combining their southern rock sound with reverent, heart-touching lyrics. The band's hit single, "Redeemed," exemplifies their genuine sound and lyrics of redemption. Weaver, in an interview with NRT's Kevin Davis, said that he used to hate himself for being overweight. Even after the singer lost over 75 pounds, he still put himself down with self-deprecating messages. It was the spirit of God that redeemed him from self hatred. "Redeemed" speaks about this redemption, Southern rock style.
5. August Rain
The music of August Rain, a Georgia-based worship group, combines a myriad of music styles including blues, folk, gospel Christian and, of course, southern rock. The band aims to give the listener an experience that goes beyond mainstream boundaries, "a music style that you just can't get out of your head." August Rain released its last album, American Jesus, in 2014.
6. Rhett Walker Band
When I first heard the Rhett Walker Band's top 5 hit single "When Mercy Found Me" from the 2012 album Come to the River, I thought they were a mainstream country band. However, country is only one part of their musical repertoire. The self-proclaimed blue collar Christian band mixed country and rock to create a musical masterpiece. I found that the Rhett Walker Band created music based on where they come from, using its diverse musical influences including Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Marshall Tucker Band, Tonic and The Wallflowers to create their music. Although the band officially split following the 2014 album Here's to the Ones, Rhett Walker has recently resurfaced playing some acoustic shows, so new music might be in the works.
7. Micah Tyler
In late 2016, Micah Tyler dropped his breakout EP Different, featuring the single "Never Been a Moment." The singer's passion is to reach the unchurched with his Gospel-centered "Southern Soul" music style. Tyler's song "Directions," also from Different, appeared on the God's Not Dead 2 soundtrack. The worship leader from Buna, Texas performs at churches, concert venues and camps. In 2016, Tyler made waves on Facebook with "Gotta Love Millenials," a video that went viral with over 40 million views.
8. Daniel Doss
Southern rocker Daniel Doss returned on March 3 with Praise the King, his first full-length album in nine years. The singer/songwriter collaborated with a number of songwriters including Benji Cowart, Krissy Nordhoff, Kenna Turner West and Nathan Fellingham. "Stained Glass Windows," one of the albums standout songs, is a piece that holds a deep meaning for Doss and his wife, Emily. The couple walked through a heartbreaking season of infertility and multiple failed adoptions. The happy ending was the successful adoption of sons Manny and Oakley. "Often when all we see are broken pieces, God sees a grander plan," says Doss of the song's meaning. "That's how it was with our journey through infertility and adoption. We are thankful that our dreams were shattered, because God is showing us His ways are so much better."
Phill Feltham is a Canadian journalist with over eight years of experience writing and editing content for print and digital media. He specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, travel, and the power grid. He loves music, movies, and, of course, living for Jesus. Highlights of Phill's work can be found on his portfolio site PhillFeltham.com and his official blog, The Weekly Wanderer. Phill lives out his faith with his wife, Jodi, in the Greater Toronto Area.
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